Volkswagen Group South Africa has installed a new cutting-edge technology that is a first for its Uitenhage-based manufacturing plant.
The Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system replaced the old traditional roller conveyor and has dramatically improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the production process. The AGV is located at the Engine Sub-Assembly area in Final Assembly. What makes the new AGV unique to other AGVs is that it is driven by induction cables under the floor. Two of those cables power it enough to drive the vehicle, so there is absolutely no contact with cables or tracks.
Older versions of AGVs are battery-powered, meaning they need to be docked in a charging station at random intervals before being re-introduced into the production line. The Engine dress-up process on the AGV line has been introduced as a fully integrated system and total process security, meaning that a powertrain will not leave a station unless all the bolts which need to be tightened are tightened. Only then does it proceed to the next station.
The AGV was installed in preparation for new engines. It has already improved the lives of operators working in that area.
"The biggest of these improvements is in the area of ergonomics. The project included aluminium rails for easier movement of tools and lightweight carbon fibre arms to act as a torque reaction device, reducing the force exerted on operators' arms. There is now greater accessibility to the engine and gearbox from all sides as it is on a turn-table. This allows it to rotate to suit the operator. There is also a lifting table on top, making it possible to accommodate the different operator heights (the old conveyor meant operators had to climb on steel platforms)," explained David Powels, Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa.
Quick Facts on Volkswagen's manufacturing plant in Uitenhage:
- 103 378 Polos and Polo Vivos produced in 2013
- 151 737 engines produced in 2013
- Over 4 000 employees work in the plant
- Over R5 billion invested in the modernisation of the plant in the last five years